There’s no denying that the biggest clash in the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2021 Group C qualification group is Bafana Bafana vs the Black Stars of Ghana.
Bafana head coach Molefi Ntseki has a long history with this Ghanaian team dating back to the 2009 U20 World Cup in Egypt when he assisted Serame Letsoaka with current captain Thulani “Tyson” Hlatshwayo, Thulani Serero, Kermit Erasmus, Darren Keet and Kamohelo Mokotjo just some of the players in that team.
Ntseki says a good start in West Africa next month will set the tone for the qualifiers and knows very well what to expect from coach Kwesi Appiah’s side.
Bafana are paired with Ghana, Sudan and Sao Tome e Principe in Group C of the AFCON qualifiers. They open their campaign away to the Black Stars next month followed by a home tie against Sudan few days later.
Ntseki has already indicated that they want to win this group and knows very well the challenges Bafana has had in the past of not taking seriously the so-called small teams.
The mental strength of the South African players has long been questioned as compared to their counterparts in West Africa. In the last decade, the country has seen a number of overseas based players returning to the PSL as some can’t make the grade in Europe in particular or they want the local comfort. Ntseki getting the attitude of our players is paramount in overcoming this.
Questions have been asked recently about when is Ntseki going to transform this squad and include some of the youthful talent from junior national teams like Mali did with some of their players from the U20 squad this year.
Ntseki has previously answered this question that they are prioritising the SA U23’s journey to the Olympics and it’s still in full swing.
But he’s also shed light that when the time is right they’ll gradually start roping in the youngsters as he’s worked with most of these players in all the junior national teams in the last five years.
This statement is also supported by SA U23 head coach David Notoane who mentions players like Thapelo Morena, Keagan Dolly, Lebo Mothiba, Lebohang Phiri and Mothobi Mvala as some of the examples from the Rio 2016 project who have now graduated to the senior team. – Report by Velile Mnyandu
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